The Big 12 odds are right here so I’m not waiting any long, let’s go.
Oklahoma 2/3 – The Sooners return nine starters on defense and will look to build on a strong finish in 2013 that featured a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama. The road schedule is light with only Texas in the Cotton Bowl being the toughest trip. They get a revenge game against Baylor at home along with rival Oklahoma State in the finale.
Baylor 11/4 – QB Bryce Petty is back after a year in which he threw 32 TD passes and just three interceptions. The defending Big 12 Champs have just four starters back from a defense that struggle at times last year. The road to defending their title will be tough. They play at Oklahoma and at Texas, but they have a very weak non-conference schedule and get TCU, Oklahoma State and Kansas State at home.
Texas 15/2 – The Charlie Strong Era begins in Austin and the pressure will be huge for an immediate turn-around. The Longhorns lost only 16 lettermen and return seven starters on offense and eight on defense. The first six games feature BYU, UCLA in Arlington, Baylor and then Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. Three of their last five games are on the road as well.
Kansas State 10/1 – Bill Snyder enters his 23rd season in Manhattan with a team that returns 11 starters (6/O and 5/D). Road games are not easy with trips to both Oklahoma and Baylor but the home schedule isn’t easy either with Auburn, Texas and Oklahoma State coming in.
Oklahoma State 10/1 – With just eight starters (4/O and 4/D) back, the Cowboys could take a step back in 2014. They open with defending National Champion Florida State in Arlington and then finish the season on the road at Baylor and at Oklahoma. That’s a tough challenge for a rebuilding team.
TCU 14/1 – The Horned Frogs had very uncharacteristic season in 2013 going just 4-8. The good news is that eight starters return on both offense and defense. They have to play at Baylor and at Texas but get Oklahoma and K-State at home. I expect at least a bowl appearance this season.
Texas Tech 20/1 – Kliff Kingsbury enters his second season in Lubbock following an 8-5 record in 2013. Don’t forget however, this team had been 7-0 before losing their last five regular season games against much stiffer competition. Nine starters return on offense but just four on D. They get Texas and Oklahoma at home and Baylor in Arlington in the finale. Road games include Kansas State and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weeks.
West Virginia 66/1 – Dana Holgerson is in year four at West Virginia and with a 21-17 record some would say he’s on the hot seat. It won’t be easy to change those thoughts with an opener in Atlanta against Alabama. They also play at Oklahoma State and Texas while entertaining Oklahoma, Baylor and Kansas State.
Iowa State 100/1 – This is likely Paul Rhodes’ final season in Ames if things don’t turn around a bit. He’s 27-36 which isn’t terrible for a coach at Iowa State, but it isn’t great either. The good news is that ISU has 10 starters back on offense and five on defense. The bad news is that road trips to Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma State await the Cyclones in their first seven games. A bowl game is possible but there is little room for error.
Kansas 100/1 – Charlie Weis is just 4-20 at Kansas and this is his make or break year. The good news for Weis is that he gets 17 starters back on offense and defense. The bad news is that his Jayhawks still have to travel to Duke, Baylor, Oklahoma and Kansas State.
The Pick: The Sooners will ride their win over Alabama into the 2014 season and with stability at quarterback now I believe they’ll clip the Baylor Bears for the title. If you want a long shot, look at Texas Tech who has a favorable schedule with the big teams at home.